Women for Women International- Stories of Courage-Speakers

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Stories of Courage

“I joined this organization because it has the most impactful program I’ve ever seen. And we have the data to back that up.”

On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, Women for Women International hosted an inspiring event featuring stories of courage from a diverse range of speakers at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. 

In case you missed it: On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, Women for Women International hosted an inspiring event featuring stories of courage from a diverse range of speakers at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and Say it forward, the event featured stories from Afghan athlete and equality advocate Dr. Hajar Abulfazl, New York Times Best Selling Author and Lecturer Marianne Williamson, Humanitarian and Model Philomena Kwao, and Women for Women International’s own CEO Laurie Adams and Social Empowerment Officer from Nigeria Talatu Aminu Salihu.

Here is the livestream video of the event. Below is a recap.

Laurie Adams began the night by telling an audience of more than 125 people about Women for Women International’s work. “I joined this organization because it has the most impactful program I’ve ever seen. And we have the data to back that up.” Women’s income triples by the time they graduate from WfWI’s program. While when they join only 30% practice family planning, by the time they graduate that increases to 87%.

After the introduction, Hajar Abulfazl took the stage to share her inspiring story of courage. Hajar spoke about her passion for soccer and how she is using sports to empower other women and girls in Afghanistan. “I know healthier women and girls contribute to a stronger society and country. That is why it is my mission to help Afghan women learn about and demand their democratic freedoms, including their right to play sports,” Hajar said.

Philomena Kwao spoke next about being model of color and what it takes to change beauty standards. “Women I’ve met in different countries have told me that seeing my face in magazines gives them the courage to love themselves,” Philomena said as she called on the audience to have the courage to truly see and appreciate themselves for their unique qualities instead of seeing past themselves in search of unrealistic standards of beauty.

Laurie Adams shared her #MeToo story and spoke about the courage it takes to be vulnerable and face one’s own trauma. “Our society equates vulnerability with weakness, but I’ve learned that vulnerability can be strength- it can be courage- it can be revolutionary. If we all face our vulnerabilities and channel them into action, we’ll no longer see vulnerability as a hindrance or an exception, rather as the normal experience that it is.”

Marianne Williamson took the stage next with a fiery call to action for women in the United States to stand in solidarity with women around the world and work towards creating a future where every woman is empowered. “It is time for a great uprising. Let them call us bossy. Let’s do what we need to do to show our own courage,” she proclaimed.

The last story of the night was that of Talatu Aminu Salihu. She told the inspiring story of how she stood up to early marriage and other harmful traditions in order to become economically and socially empowered and is now able to serve other women in northern Nigeria. “Today, I am proud of what I have achieved and happy because I am liberated and independent. My 15 years of serving the most marginalized women gives me courage every day to move on.”

About WfWI:

Since 1993, Women for Women International (WfWI) has served more than 475,000 women survivors of war in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan. With a long-term vision for sustainable change and development, WfWI works with the most marginalized and socially-excluded women so they have the skills, networks, and tools they need to rebuild their lives, communities, and nations. Through Women for Women International’s comprehensive 12-month program, women learn about their rights and health, and gain key life, vocational, and business skills to access livelihoods and break free from trauma and poverty. To learn more, visit http://www.womenforwomen.org/.